Until June 5
Yayoi Kusama is also lovingly known as the Princess of Polka Dots. She has had a number of well publicised exhibitions in London in recent years when many, including myself, were introduced to her works. Yet she was still sorely under-rated after slipping from the public art world during a bout of depression in her 60s heyday.
Showing at the Victoria Miro in London earlier this year was her signature yellow polka dot pumpkins. These alien fruit really grab you. They are as surprisingly beautiful as they are strange — which was why I was pleased to see her works at the Tate Modern.
Sadly, the pumpkins weren’t at the Tate Modern, but there was plenty more besides.
Infinity Room is her most striking of works displayed at the Tate Modern. It’s a small curving walkway set in a room of full-length mirrors with small coloured spheres of light hanging from the ceiling. As the name suggests, there’s seemingly an infinity of dots both above and around you. The effect is beautiful but also disarming. Because of the mirrors, the viewer is unsure where to walk or which way to turn, and the pretty lights soon become consuming and intense.
It’s a taste of what it must feel like to be Kusama, who has been plagued since childhood by hallucinations of these dots. In a video, also showing at the Tate Modern, she explains how she has spent her life obsessively depicting these dots, trying to consume or control them but it hasn’t worked.
Kusama was admitted to a mental illness ward in the 60s and still produces work from a ward in which she willingly lives.
The collection charts her 60 years of art making from her struggles in conformist China to her time in the New York art world when she mixed with the likes of Warhol, and briefly touches on her literary career. It includes sculpture, installations and paintings including her work with phallus-like objects.
Her works are beautiful and her story even more so. If you have the chance, I thoroughly recommend going.